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For many workers, the decision to drive to work is an economically rational one that minimizes their commute costs. The vast majority of employers offer free workplace parking, with few in comparison offering benefits for transit, walking, biking, or other means of commuting. In effect, employers are incentivizing a behavior that increases roadway congestion, reduces physical activity, and increases emissions. Moreover, since lower-income households are less likely to own and have access to a private vehicle than moderate and higher-income households, free parking is a financial benefit that many lower-income employees cannot access.
Researchers from ICF and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) examined the city-level impacts of parking cash-out. Parking cash-out is a commuter benefits option where employers that provide free or subsidized parking at work also offer employees the option to take an equivalent cash payment, tax-free transit/vanpool benefit, or combination of cash payment and tax-free benefit instead of the parking subsidy. This webinar will present results from a study of five core parking cash-out scenarios applied across a sample of nine cities. The analysis shows substantial potential for reductions in VMT, congestion, emissions, and crashes. Further, the ordinances reflected in some scenarios offer benefits to a greater number of employees, or for a greater number of modes, compared to others. Differences in these offerings have additional implications for equity, which is critical to consider alongside transportation impacts.
The work is relevant for city-level policymakers, practitioners, transportation planners, and researchers looking for effective strategies to curb VMT and emissions with safety and equity at top of mind. The topic is also timely, given the recent legislation (H.R. 8555) proposed by House Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-District 3) that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to stipulate that a parking benefit is not a qualified parking fringe benefit unless an employer offers employees the option to receive an equivalent cash benefit or alternative tax-exempt benefit in lieu of the parking benefit.
Gabby Abou-Zeid is a Transportation Data Specialist at ICF, supporting local, state, and federal clients in areas of transportation demand management (TDM), transportation systems management and operations (TSMO), public transportation investments, transportation and land use intersections (especially related to parking), and sustainable mobility. She is a PSU alum (M.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Transportation Emphasis, 2021) and currently resides in Tucson, AZ, where her transportation research journey began while researching walkability.
Allen Greenberg has analyzed and advocated for sustainable U.S transportation policy from both inside and outside of government for over 25 years. As a senior policy analyst at the Federal Highway Administration, Allen cultivates, develops, and manages transportation demand and pricing pilot initiatives and research, including projects related to parking cruising, pricing, management, and policy. Allen holds a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning and a B.S. in Public Policy and Management.
Transportation planning, Choice of transportation, Employer-sponsored transportation, Commuting
Transportation | Urban Studies and Planning
Abou-Zeid, Gabriella and Greenberg, Allen, "Impacts of City-Level Parking Cash-Out and Commuter Benefits Ordinances" (2022). TREC Friday Seminar Series. 228.